Cancer Information

Penile Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)


General Information About Penile Cancer

Incidence and Mortality

Estimated new cases and deaths from penile (and other male genital) cancer in the United States in 2013:[1]

  • New cases: 1,570.
  • Deaths: 310.

Risk Factors

Penile cancer is rare in most developed nations, including the United States, where the rate is less than 1 per 100,000 men per year. Some studies suggest an association between human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and penile cancer.[2][3][4][5] Observational studies have shown a lower prevalence of penile HPV in men who have been circumcised (odds ratio, 0.37; 95% confidence interval, 0.16–0.85).[6] Some, but not all, observational studies also suggest that male newborn circumcision is associated with a decreased risk of penile cancer.[7][8] According to published data, if the relationship is causal, the number needed to treat was about 909 circumcisions to prevent a single case of invasive penile cancer.[9]

Treatment Overview

When diagnosed early (stage 0, stage I, and stage II), penile cancer is highly curable. Curability decreases sharply for stage III and stage IV. Because of the rarity of this cancer in the United States, clinical trials specifically for penile cancer are infrequent. Patients with stage III and stage IV cancer can be candidates for phase I and phase II clinical trials testing new drugs, biologicals, or surgical techniques to improve local control and distant metastases.

The selection of treatment depends on the following:[10][11]

  • Size.
  • Location.
  • Invasiveness.
  • Stage of the tumor.
1American Cancer Society.: Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2013. Available online. Last accessed May 2, 2013.2Del Mistro A, Chieco Bianchi L: HPV-related neoplasias in HIV-infected individuals. Eur J Cancer 37 (10): 1227-35, 2001.3Griffiths TR, Mellon JK: Human papillomavirus and urological tumours: I. Basic science and role in penile cancer. BJU Int 84 (5): 579-86, 1999.4Poblet E, Alfaro L, Fernander-Segoviano P, et al.: Human papillomavirus-associated penile squamous cell carcinoma in HIV-positive patients. Am J Surg Pathol 23 (9): 1119-23, 1999.5Frisch M, van den Brule AJ, Jiwa NM, et al.: HPV-16-positive anal and penile carcinomas in a young man--anogenital 'field effect' in the immunosuppressed male? Scand J Infect Dis 28 (6): 629-32, 1996.6Castellsagué X, Bosch FX, Muñoz N, et al.: Male circumcision, penile human papillomavirus infection, and cervical cancer in female partners. N Engl J Med 346 (15): 1105-12, 2002.7Schoen EJ, Oehrli M, Colby C, et al.: The highly protective effect of newborn circumcision against invasive penile cancer. Pediatrics 105 (3): E36, 2000.8Neonatal circumcision revisited. Fetus and Newborn Committee, Canadian Paediatric Society. CMAJ 154 (6): 769-80, 1996.9Christakis DA, Harvey E, Zerr DM, et al.: A trade-off analysis of routine newborn circumcision. Pediatrics 105 (1 Pt 3): 246-9, 2000.10Trabulsi DJ, Gomella LG: Cancer of the urethra and penis. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1272-79.11Chao KS, Perez CA: Penis and male urethra. In: Perez CA, Brady LW, eds.: Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 1998, pp 1717-1732.

[Back to Top]


Cellular Classification of Penile Cancer

Virtually all penile carcinomas are of squamous cell origin and include the following subtypes:

  • Verrucous carcinoma.[1]
  • Warty carcinoma (verruciform).[2]
  • Basaloid carcinoma.[3]

Although they are less common subtypes, warty carcinoma and basaloid carcinoma appear to be more highly associated with human papillomaviruses (HPV), particularly HPV 16, than typical squamous cell carcinoma or verrucous carcinoma of the penis.[3][4][5]

In addition, neuroendocrine carcinomas can also be seen.[6]

1Schwartz RA: Verrucous carcinoma of the skin and mucosa. J Am Acad Dermatol 32 (1): 1-21; quiz 22-4, 1995.2Bezerra AL, Lopes A, Landman G, et al.: Clinicopathologic features and human papillomavirus dna prevalence of warty and squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. Am J Surg Pathol 25 (5): 673-8, 2001.3Cubilla AL, Reuter VE, Gregoire L, et al.: Basaloid squamous cell carcinoma: a distinctive human papilloma virus-related penile neoplasm: a report of 20 cases. Am J Surg Pathol 22 (6): 755-61, 1998.4Gregoire L, Cubilla AL, Reuter VE, et al.: Preferential association of human papillomavirus with high-grade histologic variants of penile-invasive squamous cell carcinoma. J Natl Cancer Inst 87 (22): 1705-9, 1995.5Rubin MA, Kleter B, Zhou M, et al.: Detection and typing of human papillomavirus DNA in penile carcinoma: evidence for multiple independent pathways of penile carcinogenesis. Am J Pathol 159 (4): 1211-8, 2001.6Vadmal MS, Steckel J, Teichberg S, et al.: Primary neuroendocrine carcinoma of the penile urethra. J Urol 157 (3): 956-7, 1997.

[Back to Top]


Stage Information for Penile Cancer

Definitions of TNM

The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) has designated staging by TNM classification to define penile cancer.[1]

Table 1. Primary Tumor (T)aaReprinted with permission from AJCC: Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.bBroad pushing penetration (invasion) is permitted; destructive invasion is against this diagnosis.TXPrimary tumor cannot be assessed.T0No evidence of primary tumor.TisCarcinoma in situ.TaNoninvasive verrucous carcinoma.bT1aTumor invades subepithelial connective tissue without lymph vascular invasion and is not poorly differentiated (i.e., grade 3–4).T1bTumor invades subepithelial connective tissue with lymph vascular invasion or is poorly differentiated.T2Tumor invades corpus spongiosum or cavernosum.T3Tumor invades urethra.T4Tumor invades other adjacent structures.Table 2. Regional Lymph Nodes (N)aaReprinted with permission from AJCC: Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.bClinical stage definition based on palpation, imaging.cPathologic stage definition based on biopsy or surgical excision.Clinical Stage DefinitionbcNXRegional lymph nodes cannot be assessed.cN0No palpable or visibly enlarged inguinal lymph nodes.cN1Palpable mobile unilateral inguinal lymph node.cN2Palpable mobile multiple or bilateral inguinal lymph nodes.cN3Palpable fixed inguinal nodal mass or pelvic lymphadenopathy unilateral or bilateral.Pathologic Stage DefinitioncpNXRegional lymph nodes cannot be assessed.pN0No regional lymph node metastasis.pN1Metastasis in a single inguinal lymph node.pN2Metastases in multiple or bilateral inguinal lymph nodes.pN3Extranodal extension of lymph node metastasis or pelvic lymph node(s) unilateral or bilateral.Table 3. Distant Metastasis (M)aaReprinted with permission from AJCC: Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.bLymph node metastasis outside of the true pelvis in addition to visceral or bone sites.M0No distant metastasis.M1Distant metastasis.b

Additional Descriptor. The m suffix indicates the presence of multiple primary tumors and is recorded in parentheses – e.g., pTa (m) N0M0.[1]

Table 4. Anatomic Stage/Prognostic GroupsaStageTNMaReprinted with permission from AJCC: Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.0TisN0M0TaN0M0IT1aN0M0IIT1bN0M0T2N0M0T3N0M0IIIaT1–3N1M0IIIbT1–3N2M0 IVT4Any NM0Any TN3M0Any TAny NM11Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.

[Back to Top]


Stage 0 Penile Cancer

Stage 0 penile cancer is defined by the following TNM classifications:

  • Tis, N0, M0
  • Ta, N0, M0

Carcinoma in situ of the penis is referred to as erythroplasia of Queyrat when it occurs on the glans, and Bowen disease when it occurs on the penile shaft. These precursor lesions progress to invasive squamous cell carcinoma in 5% to 15% of cases. In case series studies, human papillomavirus DNA has been detected in the majority of these lesions.[2][3] With no data from clinical trials in this disease stage, treatment recommendations are largely based on case reports and case series involving limited numbers of patients.

Treatment options:

  1. Surgical excision can result in scarring, deformity, and impaired function. To minimize these effects, Mohs micrographic surgery, which involves the excision of successive horizontal layers of tissue with microscopic examination of each layer in frozen section, has been used in patients with in situ and invasive penile cancers.[4][5][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
  2. Topical application of 5-fluorouracil cream has been reported to be effective in cases of erythroplasia of Queyrat [6] and Bowen disease.[7][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
  3. Imiquimod 5% cream is a topical immune response modifier that has been reported to be effective with good cosmetic and functional results.[8][9][10][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
  4. Laser therapy with Nd:YAG or CO2 lasers has also been reported to result in excellent cosmetic results.[11][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
  5. Cryosurgery has been reported to result in good cosmetic results in patients with erythroplasia of Queyrat and verrucous penile carcinoma.[12][13][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage 0 penile cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

1Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.2Cupp MR, Malek RS, Goellner JR, et al.: The detection of human papillomavirus deoxyribonucleic acid in intraepithelial, in situ, verrucous and invasive carcinoma of the penis. J Urol 154 (3): 1024-9, 1995.3Rubin MA, Kleter B, Zhou M, et al.: Detection and typing of human papillomavirus DNA in penile carcinoma: evidence for multiple independent pathways of penile carcinogenesis. Am J Pathol 159 (4): 1211-8, 2001.4Mohs FE, Snow SN, Messing EM, et al.: Microscopically controlled surgery in the treatment of carcinoma of the penis. J Urol 133 (6): 961-6, 1985.5Moritz DL, Lynch WS: Extensive Bowen's disease of the penile shaft treated with fresh tissue Mohs micrographic surgery in two separate operations. J Dermatol Surg Oncol 17 (4): 374-8, 1991.6Goette DK, Carson TE: Erythroplasia of Queyrat: treatment with topical 5-fluorouracil. Cancer 38 (4): 1498-502, 1976.7Tolia BM, Castro VL, Mouded IM, et al.: Bowen's disease of shaft of penis. Successful treatment with 5-fluorouracil. Urology 7 (6): 617-9, 1976.8Danielsen AG, Sand C, Weismann K: Treatment of Bowen's disease of the penis with imiquimod 5% cream. Clin Exp Dermatol 28 (Suppl 1): 7-9, 2003.9Micali G, Nasca MR, Tedeschi A: Topical treatment of intraepithelial penile carcinoma with imiquimod. Clin Exp Dermatol 28 (Suppl 1): 4-6, 2003.10Schroeder TL, Sengelmann RD: Squamous cell carcinoma in situ of the penis successfully treated with imiquimod 5% cream. J Am Acad Dermatol 46 (4): 545-8, 2002.11van Bezooijen BP, Horenblas S, Meinhardt W, et al.: Laser therapy for carcinoma in situ of the penis. J Urol 166 (5): 1670-1, 2001.12Michelman FA, Filho AC, Moraes AM: Verrucous carcinoma of the penis treated with cryosurgery. J Urol 168 (3): 1096-7, 2002.13Sonnex TS, Ralfs IG, Plaza de Lanza M, et al.: Treatment of erythroplasia of Queyrat with liquid nitrogen cryosurgery. Br J Dermatol 106 (5): 581-4, 1982.

[Back to Top]


Stage I Penile Cancer

Stage I penile cancer is defined by the following TNM classification:

  • T1a, N0, M0

Stage I penile cancer is curable.[2]

Standard treatment options:

  1. For lesions limited to the foreskin, wide local excision with circumcision may be adequate therapy for control.
  2. For infiltrating tumors of the glans with or without involvement of the adjacent skin, the choice of therapy is dictated by tumor size, extent of infiltration, and degree of tumor destruction of normal tissue. Equivalent therapeutic options include: Penile amputation.[3] Radiation therapy (i.e., external-beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy).[4][5] Microscopically controlled surgery.[6]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Nd:YAG laser therapy has offered excellent control/cure with preservation of cosmetic appearance and sexual function.[7][8]

Because of the high incidence of microscopic node metastases, elective adjunctive inguinal dissection of clinically uninvolved (negative) lymph nodes in conjunction with amputation is often used for patients with poorly differentiated tumors. Lymphadenectomy can carry substantial morbidity, such as infection, skin necrosis, wound breakdown, chronic edema, and even a low, but finite, mortality rate. The impact of prophylactic lymphadenectomy on survival is not known. For these reasons, opinions vary on its use.[9][10][11][12]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I penile cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

1Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.2Harty JI, Catalona WJ: Carcinoma of the penis. In: Javadpour N, ed.: Principles and Management of Urologic Cancer. 2nd ed. Baltimore, Md: Williams and Wilkins, 1983, pp 581-597.3Lynch DF, Pettaway CA: Tumors of the penis. In: Walsh PC, Retik AB, Vaughan ED, et al., eds.: Campbell's Urology. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2002, pp 2945-2947.4Chao KS, Perez CA: Penis and male urethra. In: Perez CA, Brady LW, eds.: Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 1998, pp 1717-1732.5McLean M, Akl AM, Warde P, et al.: The results of primary radiation therapy in the management of squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 25 (4): 623-8, 1993.6Mohs FE, Snow SN, Messing EM, et al.: Microscopically controlled surgery in the treatment of carcinoma of the penis. J Urol 133 (6): 961-6, 1985.7Smith JA Jr.: Lasers in clinical urologic surgery. In: Dixon JA, ed.: Surgical Application of Lasers. 2nd ed. Chicago, Ill: Year Book Medical Publishers, Inc., 1987, pp 218-237.8Horenblas S, van Tinteren H, Delemarre JF, et al.: Squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. II. Treatment of the primary tumor. J Urol 147 (6): 1533-8, 1992.9Theodorescu D, Russo P, Zhang ZF, et al.: Outcomes of initial surveillance of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis and negative nodes. J Urol 155 (5): 1626-31, 1996.10Lindegaard JC, Nielsen OS, Lundbeck FA, et al.: A retrospective analysis of 82 cases of cancer of the penis. Br J Urol 77 (6): 883-90, 1996.11Ornellas AA, Seixas AL, Marota A, et al.: Surgical treatment of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis: retrospective analysis of 350 cases. J Urol 151 (5): 1244-9, 1994.12Young MJ, Reda DJ, Waters WB: Penile carcinoma: a twenty-five-year experience. Urology 38 (6): 529-32, 1991.

[Back to Top]


Stage II Penile Cancer

Stage II penile cancer is defined by the following TNM classifications:

  • T1b, N0, M0
  • T2, N0, M0
  • T3, N0, M0

Standard treatment options:

  • Stage II penile cancer is most frequently managed by penile amputation for local control. Whether the amputation is partial, total, or radical will depend on the extent and location of the neoplasm. External-beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy with surgical salvage are alternative approaches.[2][3][4][5][6]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Nd:YAG laser therapy has been used to preserve the penis in selected patients with small lesions.[7]

Because of the high incidence of microscopic node metastases, elective adjunctive dissection of clinically uninvolved (negative) lymph nodes in conjunction with amputation is often used for patients with poorly differentiated tumors. Lymphadenectomy, can carry substantial morbidity, such as infection, skin necrosis, wound breakdown, chronic edema, and even a low, but finite, mortality rate. The impact of prophylactic lymphadenectomy on survival is not known.[8][9][10][11]

To reduce the morbidity associated with prophylactic lymphadenectomy, dynamic sentinel node biopsy is being used in patients with stage T2 clinically node-negative penile cancer. One retrospective single-institution study of 22 patients reported a false-negative rate of 11%.[12]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage II penile cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

1Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.2Harty JI, Catalona WJ: Carcinoma of the penis. In: Javadpour N, ed.: Principles and Management of Urologic Cancer. 2nd ed. Baltimore, Md: Williams and Wilkins, 1983, pp 581-597.3Schellhammer PF, Spaulding JT: Carcinoma of the penis. In: Paulson DF, ed.: Genitourinary Surgery. Vol. 2. New York: Churchill Livingston, 1984, pp 629-654.4Johnson DE, Lo RK: Tumors of the penis, urethra, and scrotum. In: deKernion JB, Paulson DF, eds.: Genitourinary Cancer Management. Philadelphia, Pa: Lea and Febiger, 1987, pp 219-258.5McLean M, Akl AM, Warde P, et al.: The results of primary radiation therapy in the management of squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 25 (4): 623-8, 1993.6Crook JM, Jezioranski J, Grimard L, et al.: Penile brachytherapy: results for 49 patients. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 62 (2): 460-7, 2005.7Horenblas S, van Tinteren H, Delemarre JF, et al.: Squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. II. Treatment of the primary tumor. J Urol 147 (6): 1533-8, 1992.8Theodorescu D, Russo P, Zhang ZF, et al.: Outcomes of initial surveillance of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis and negative nodes. J Urol 155 (5): 1626-31, 1996.9Lindegaard JC, Nielsen OS, Lundbeck FA, et al.: A retrospective analysis of 82 cases of cancer of the penis. Br J Urol 77 (6): 883-90, 1996.10Ornellas AA, Seixas AL, Marota A, et al.: Surgical treatment of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis: retrospective analysis of 350 cases. J Urol 151 (5): 1244-9, 1994.11Young MJ, Reda DJ, Waters WB: Penile carcinoma: a twenty-five-year experience. Urology 38 (6): 529-32, 1991.12Perdonà S, Autorino R, De Sio M, et al.: Dynamic sentinel node biopsy in clinically node-negative penile cancer versus radical inguinal lymphadenectomy: a comparative study. Urology 66 (6): 1282-6, 2005.

[Back to Top]


Stage III Penile Cancer

Stage III penile cancer is defined by the following TNM classifications:

  • T1–3, N1, M0
  • T1–3, N2, M0

Inguinal adenopathy in patients with penile cancer is common but may be the result of infection rather than neoplasm. If palpable enlarged lymph nodes exist 3 or more weeks after removal of the infected primary lesion and completion of a course of antibiotic therapy, bilateral inguinal lymph node dissection should be performed.

In cases of proven regional inguinal lymph node metastasis without evidence of distant spread, bilateral ilioinguinal dissection is the treatment of choice.[2][3][4][5] Since many patients with positive lymph nodes are not cured, clinical trials may be appropriate.

Standard treatment options:

  1. Clinically evident regional lymph node metastasis without evidence of distant spread is an indication for bilateral ilioinguinal lymph node dissection after penile amputation.[6]
  2. Radiation therapy may be considered as an alternative to lymph node dissection in patients who are not surgical candidates.
  3. Postoperative radiation therapy may decrease incidence of inguinal recurrences.

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Clinical trials using radiosensitizers or cytotoxic drugs are appropriate. A combination of vincristine, bleomycin, and methotrexate has been effective as both neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapy.[7] Cisplatin (100 mg/m²) as neoadjuvant therapy plus continuous-infusion 5-fluorouracil has also been shown to be effective.[6] Single-agent cisplatin (50 mg/m2) was tested in a large trial and was found to be ineffective.[8]

Because of the high incidence of microscopic node metastases, adjunctive inguinal dissection of clinically uninvolved (negative) lymph nodes in conjunction with amputation is often used for patients with poorly differentiated tumors. Lymphadenectomy can carry substantial morbidity, such as infection, skin necrosis, wound breakdown, chronic edema, and even a low, but finite, mortality rate. The impact of prophylactic lymphadenectomy on survival is not known. [3][4][9][10]

To reduce the morbidity associated with prophylactic lymphadenectomy, dynamic sentinel node biopsy is being used in patients with stage T2 and stage T3 clinically node-negative penile cancer. One retrospective single-institution study of 22 patients reported a false-negative rate of 11%.[11]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III penile cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

1Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.2Harty JI, Catalona WJ: Carcinoma of the penis. In: Javadpour N, ed.: Principles and Management of Urologic Cancer. 2nd ed. Baltimore, Md: Williams and Wilkins, 1983, pp 581-597.3Theodorescu D, Russo P, Zhang ZF, et al.: Outcomes of initial surveillance of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis and negative nodes. J Urol 155 (5): 1626-31, 1996.4Lindegaard JC, Nielsen OS, Lundbeck FA, et al.: A retrospective analysis of 82 cases of cancer of the penis. Br J Urol 77 (6): 883-90, 1996.5Lynch DF, Pettaway CA: Tumors of the penis. In: Walsh PC, Retik AB, Vaughan ED, et al., eds.: Campbell's Urology. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2002, pp 2945-2947.6Fisher HA, Barada JH, Horton J, et al.: Neoadjuvant therapy with cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil for stage III squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. [Abstract] J Urol 143(4 Suppl): A-653, 352A, 1990.7Pizzocaro G, Piva L: Adjuvant and neoadjuvant vincristine, bleomycin, and methotrexate for inguinal metastases from squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. Acta Oncol 27 (6b): 823-4, 1988.8Gagliano RG, Blumenstein BA, Crawford ED, et al.: cis-Diamminedichloroplatinum in the treatment of advanced epidermoid carcinoma of the penis: a Southwest Oncology Group Study. J Urol 141 (1): 66-7, 1989.9Ornellas AA, Seixas AL, Marota A, et al.: Surgical treatment of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis: retrospective analysis of 350 cases. J Urol 151 (5): 1244-9, 1994.10Young MJ, Reda DJ, Waters WB: Penile carcinoma: a twenty-five-year experience. Urology 38 (6): 529-32, 1991.11Perdonà S, Autorino R, De Sio M, et al.: Dynamic sentinel node biopsy in clinically node-negative penile cancer versus radical inguinal lymphadenectomy: a comparative study. Urology 66 (6): 1282-6, 2005.

[Back to Top]


Stage IV Penile Cancer

Stage IV penile cancer is defined by the following TNM classifications:

  • T4, Any N, M0
  • Any T, N3, M0
  • Any T, Any N, M1

No standard treatment exists that is curative for patients with stage IV penile cancer. Therapy is directed at palliation, which may be achieved either with surgery or radiation therapy.

Standard treatment options:

  1. Palliative surgery may be considered for control of the local penile lesion and even for the prevention of the necrosis, infection, and hemorrhage that can result from neglected regional adenopathy.
  2. Radiation therapy may be palliative for the primary tumor, regional adenopathy, and bone metastases.

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Clinical trials combining chemotherapy with palliative methods of local control are appropriate for such patients (tested chemotherapeutic drugs with some efficacy include vincristine, cisplatin, methotrexate, and bleomycin). The combination of vincristine, bleomycin, and methotrexate has been effective both as adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy.[2]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IV penile cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

1Penis. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 447-55.2Pizzocaro G, Piva L: Adjuvant and neoadjuvant vincristine, bleomycin, and methotrexate for inguinal metastases from squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. Acta Oncol 27 (6b): 823-4, 1988.

[Back to Top]


Recurrent Penile Cancer

Locally recurrent disease can be approached by surgery or radiation therapy. If the initial treatment of radiation therapy fails, patients are often salvaged by penile amputation. Patients with nodal recurrences that are not controllable by local measures are candidates for phase I and phase II clinical trials testing new biologicals and chemotherapeutic agents.[1][2][3][4][5]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent penile cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

1Pizzocaro G, Piva L: Adjuvant and neoadjuvant vincristine, bleomycin, and methotrexate for inguinal metastases from squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. Acta Oncol 27 (6b): 823-4, 1988.2Ahmed T, Sklaroff R, Yagoda A: Sequential trials of methotrexate, cisplatin and bleomycin for penile cancer. J Urol 132 (3): 465-8, 1984.3Dexeus FH, Logothetis CJ, Sella A, et al.: Combination chemotherapy with methotrexate, bleomycin and cisplatin for advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the male genital tract. J Urol 146 (5): 1284-7, 1991.4Fisher HA, Barada JH, Horton J, et al.: Neoadjuvant therapy with cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil for stage III squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. [Abstract] J Urol 143(4 Suppl): A-653, 352A, 1990.5Hussein AM, Benedetto P, Sridhar KS: Chemotherapy with cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil for penile and urethral squamous cell carcinomas. Cancer 65 (3): 433-8, 1990.

[Back to Top]


Changes to This Summary (02/21/2013)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

General Information About Penile Cancer

Updated statistics with estimated new cases and deaths for 2013 (cited American Cancer Society as reference 1).

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

[Back to Top]


About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of penile cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Reviewers and Updates

This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:

  • be discussed at a meeting,
  • be cited with text, or
  • replace or update an existing article that is already cited.

Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.

The lead reviewer for Penile Cancer Treatment is:

  • Franco M. Muggia, MD (New York University Medical Center)

Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the Web site's Contact Form. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.

Levels of Evidence

Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.

Permission to Use This Summary

PDQ is a registered trademark. Although the content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text, it cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless it is presented in its entirety and is regularly updated. However, an author would be permitted to write a sentence such as “NCI’s PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks succinctly: [include excerpt from the summary].”

The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:

National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Penile Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/penile/HealthProfessional. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

Images in this summary are used with permission of the author(s), artist, and/or publisher for use within the PDQ summaries only. Permission to use images outside the context of PDQ information must be obtained from the owner(s) and cannot be granted by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the illustrations in this summary, along with many other cancer-related images, is available in Visuals Online, a collection of over 2,000 scientific images.

Disclaimer

Based on the strength of the available evidence, treatment options may be described as either “standard” or “under clinical evaluation.” These classifications should not be used as a basis for insurance reimbursement determinations. More information on insurance coverage is available on Cancer.gov on the Coping with Cancer: Financial, Insurance, and Legal Information page.

Contact Us

More information about contacting us or receiving help with the Cancer.gov Web site can be found on our Contact Us for Help page. Questions can also be submitted to Cancer.gov through the Web site’s Contact Form.

[Back to Top]


Get More Information From NCI

Call 1-800-4-CANCER

For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.

Chat online

The NCI's LiveHelp® online chat service provides Internet users with the ability to chat online with an Information Specialist. The service is available from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Information Specialists can help Internet users find information on NCI Web sites and answer questions about cancer.

Write to us

For more information from the NCI, please write to this address:

  • NCI Public Inquiries Office
  • 9609 Medical Center Dr.
  • Room 2E532 MSC 9760
  • Bethesda, MD 20892-9760

Search the NCI Web site

The NCI Web site provides online access to information on cancer, clinical trials, and other Web sites and organizations that offer support and resources for cancer patients and their families. For a quick search, use the search box in the upper right corner of each Web page. The results for a wide range of search terms will include a list of "Best Bets," editorially chosen Web pages that are most closely related to the search term entered.

There are also many other places to get materials and information about cancer treatment and services. Hospitals in your area may have information about local and regional agencies that have information on finances, getting to and from treatment, receiving care at home, and dealing with problems related to cancer treatment.

Find Publications

The NCI has booklets and other materials for patients, health professionals, and the public. These publications discuss types of cancer, methods of cancer treatment, coping with cancer, and clinical trials. Some publications provide information on tests for cancer, cancer causes and prevention, cancer statistics, and NCI research activities. NCI materials on these and other topics may be ordered online or printed directly from the NCI Publications Locator. These materials can also be ordered by telephone from the Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

[Back to Top]


This information was last updated on 2013-02-21